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|United States Patent
,   et al.
July 15, 1997
The present invention provides a melodic novelty party-favor article
comprising a housing and an electronic circuit assembly. The housing
contains the electronic circuit assembly, which comprises a power source,
an integrated circuit unit, a sound production means and a switch
mechanism. The switching mechanism comprises two electrically conductive
ends and a resistor, wherein the conductive ends are contiguously placed
on an outer surface portion of the housing and are not in contact with
each other, whereby the circuit assembly is activated by simultaneously
contacting the two electrically conductive ends with an electrically
Lee; Seung Soo (708 Walnut Dr., Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417);
Lee; Jae Chul (213-9 33/3 Jang-Jun-1-Dong Kum-Kung-Ku, Pusan, KR)
January 25, 1995|
|Current U.S. Class:
||428/24; 40/455; 428/3; 431/253 |
|Field of Search:
U.S. Patent Documents
|4477249||Oct., 1984||Ruzek et al.||431/253.
|5277645||Jan., 1994||Kelley et al.||428/3.
Primary Examiner: Epstein; Henry F.
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Selitto & Associates
What is claimed is:
1. A melodic novelty article, comprising a body including a gripping
portion for providing a handgrip along said body, said gripping portion
having a generally elongated shape; and an electronic circuit assembly
mounted in said body and including an integrated circuit unit, which is
programed with at least one sound sequence, sound producing means for
receiving said sound sequence from said integrated circuit unit and
converting same to audible sounds, and a normally open switch connected to
said integrated circuit unit for activating same and having a pair of
conductive ends, which are contiguously located in said gripping portion,
said conductive ends being spaced apart such that they are electrically
connected to each other when a person grips said gripping portion, thereby
closing said switch and hence activating said circuit assembly to produce
2. The melodic novelty article of claim 1, further comprising a conductive
member enclosing said conductive ends for electrically connecting said
conductive ends to each other.
3. The melodic novelty article of claim 2, wherein at least one of said
conductive ends is out of contact with said conductive member when said
gripping portion is not gripped.
4. The melodic novelty article of claim 3, wherein said conductive member
is resilient such that when a person grips said gripping portion, said
conductive member moves to come in contact with said conductive ends,
thereby electrically connecting said conductive ends to each other, and
such that when said gripping portion is released, said conductive member
returns to its substantially original shape, thereby electrically
disconnecting said conductive ends from each other.
5. The melodic novelty article of claim 4, wherein said body includes a
stem defining said gripping portion.
6. The melodic novelty article of claim 5, wherein said conductive ends and
said conductive member are positioned on said stem.
7. The melodic novelty article of claim 6, wherein said body has a flower
8. The melodic novelty article of claim 1, wherein said body includes a
handle defining said gripping portion.
9. The melodic novelty article of claim 8, wherein one of said conductive
ends is positioned on one side of said handle and the other one of said
conducive ends is positioned on an opposite side of said handle.
10. The melodic novelty article of claim 9, wherein at least a portion of
each of said conductive ends is exposed such that when a person grips said
handle, a hand of the person comes in contact with said conductive ends,
thereby electrically connecting said conductive ends to each other.
11. The melodic novelty article of claim 10, wherein said electronic
circuit assembly is housed in a wand mounted on said handle.
12. The melodic novelty article of claim 11, wherein said body has the
shape of a cake server.
13. The melodic novelty article of claim 1, wherein said circuit includes a
resistor connected to one of said conductive ends and said integrated
14. The melodic novelty article of claim 13, wherein said resistor
functions to regulate the sensitivity of said switch.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to melodic novelty party-favors containing an
integrated circuit capable of producing sounds such as musical tones and
emulated voice messages.
There are many novelty party-favors, i.e., novelty items that are utilized
to enhance festive mood of a party or gathering, that are utilized to
enhance the festivity of special occasions, such as birthday and holiday
parties and various anniversary gatherings. Illustrative examples of
party-favors include balloons, candles, hats, batons, artificial flowers
and the like. However, most of commonly available party-favors provide
only visual effects or audio effects. It is desirable to have party-favors
that provide combined audio and visual effects to enhance the festivity of
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
There is provided in accordance with the present invention a melodic
novelty party-favor article comprising a housing and an electronic circuit
assembly. The housing contains the electronic circuit assembly, which
comprises a power source, an integrated circuit unit that contains one or
more of preprogrammed sound sequences, a sound production means that
converts the programmed sound sequences to audible sounds and a switch
mechanism that is connected to and controls the integrated circuit unit.
The switch mechanism comprises two electrically conductive ends and a
resistor, wherein the conductive ends are contiguously placed on an outer
surface portion of the housing and are not in contact with each other,
whereby the circuit assembly is activated by simultaneously contacting the
two electrically conductive ends with an electrically conductive surface.
In accordance with the present invention, the housing can be in the form of
a novelty party-favor article, such as a flower, wand, knife, cake-server,
hat or balloon, and are produced from a electrically non-conductive
material, such as paper, plastics, wood, rubbers and the like.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 illustrates an artificial flower that houses the electronic circuit
assembly of the present invention.
FIG. 2 illustrates an electronic circuit assembly of the present invention.
FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrates wands that are equipped with and house the
present electronic circuit assembly.
FIG. 5 illustrates a knife equipped with the electronic circuit assembly.
FIG. 6 illustrates a cake-server equipped with the electronic circuit
FIG. 7 illustrates a resilient, conductive member that can be used to
activate the electronic circuit assembly.
FIG. 8 illustrates another electronic circuit assembly of the present
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
While the invention will be described in connection with exemplary
embodiments, it is not intended to limit the scope of the present
invention to those embodiments.
Referring to FIG. 1, as an example, there is illustrated a melodic
artificial flower 10. The melodic flower contains an electronic circuit
assembly 20, which is illustrated further in FIG. 2. The electronic
circuit assembly 20 contains an integrated circuit unit (ICU) 22, a power
source 24, a switch mechanism 26 and a sound production mechanism, e.g., a
speaker, 28. The circuits of the electronic circuit assembly 20 are
complete and closed except for the switch mechanism 26.
The ICU 22 contains a memory stage 30. The memory stage 30 contains
preprogrammed electronic signal sequences that are converted to audible
tones or messages through the speaker 28 when the switch mechanism 26 is
closed and activates the ICU 22. The ICU 22 contains programs that play
one or more of complete cycles of preprogrammed electronic signals of
audible tones or messages once the switch mechanism 26 is closed to
activate the ICU. The program in the ICU preferably is a program that
completes the preprogrammed cycle or cycles even when the switch mechanism
is opened before the completion of the programmed cycle. However,
different needs for different party-favors may require that the playing
duration of the electronic signals that are programmed in the ICU needs to
correspond to the closing sequence and duration of the switch mechanism.
Additionally, if there is a specific requirement to have the electronic
signals from the ICU and, correspondingly, the auditory message therefrom
to respond to the closing sequence and duration of the switch mechanism,
it may be desirable to program the ICU to reset itself to the initial
stage of its programmed cycle when the switch mechanism is opened after
each use. As is well known in the art, ICUs suitable for the present
invention may be programmed with various musical tones and/or voice
messages, and they are commercially available. An illustrative example of
such ICUs is Melody IC ERSO 3830 SER. Such suitable integrated circuit
units are conventional and within the current state of the relevant art;
consequently, no further description is disclosed herein.
The ICU 22 may also contain an amplifier 32 that amplifies the electronic
signals from the ICU, if a louder audible response is desired. The power
source 24, e.g., a battery, is selected to properly accommodate the
requirements of the electronic circuit assembly 20, especially the ICU 22.
In accordance with the convention of the relevant electronic circuit art,
the preferred ICU has 1.5 volt circuitries and, correspondingly, the
preferred power source potential is 1.5 volt.
The switch mechanism 26 contains a resistor 34, a bipolar transistor 35 and
a physical interruption 36. The resistor 34 is connected between the power
source 24 and the memory stage 30, and the bipolar transistor 35 is placed
in series with the resistor 34 with respect to the power source 24. The
bipolar transistor 35 contains a collector terminal, a base terminal and a
emitter terminal. The collector terminal is connected to the positive
polarity of the power source 24; the base terminal is connected to the
physical interruption 36; and the emitter terminal is connected to the
memory stage 30. As mentioned above, the electronic circuit assembly 20 is
a closed circuit except for the switch mechanism, more particularly the
physical interruption 36. The interruption 36 is a break in the circuit,
creating a first conductive terminal 38 and a second conductive terminal
39. The first and second terminals 38, 39 are fabricated from an insulated
conductive material, e.g., insulated wire. The first terminal 38 is
connected to the positive potential of the power source 24, and the second
terminal 39 is connected to the transistor 35, more particularly the base
terminal of the transistor. The first and second terminals 38, 39 are
extended away from the electronic circuit assembly 20 and are connected to
a first electrically conductive end 42 and a second electrically
conductive end 44, respectively. In order to facilitate an easy activation
of the ICU, the first and second conductive ends 42, 44 can be fitted with
a conductive material having a large surface area. The conductive ends 42,
44 can be strips or wires fabricated from an electrically conductive
material, for example, metal, e.g., copper and aluminum; an electrically
conductive polymer, e.g., polyaniline; or a conductively modified polymer,
e.g, a carbon or metal particle filled rubber. The conductive ends 42, 44
are exposed to the exterior surface of the flower stem 12 and are placed
and affixed closed to each other, but they must not touch each other. When
the conductive ends 42, 44 are simultaneously contacted with an
electrically conductive material, the electrical current is conveyed to
the bipolar transistor 35 and then the transistor 35 amplifies the current
to a level that activates the ICU. The activated ICU causes the
preprogrammed tone or message to be audibly played through the speaker 28.
Although any conductive material may be employed to activate the ICU, the
more desired method of activating the ICU in accordance with the present
invention is simultaneously contacting the two conductive ends 42, 44 with
the human skin.
In accordance with the present invention, the sensitivity of the switch
mechanism can be controlled by varying the resistance level of the
resistor 34, thereby making the switch mechanism sensitive enough to
activate the ICU even when a relatively low conductive material such as
the human skin is employed to close the switch mechanism and thus activate
the ICU. However, the sensitivity of the switch mechanism should not be
too high as to activate the ICU when contacted by a materials that is less
conductive than the human skin, thereby preventing unexpected or unwanted
activation of the ICU. For example, when the method of activation is a
human skin contact, the suitable resistance is between about 10 megohms
and about 100 megohms, preferably between about 25 megohms and about 90
megohms, more preferably between about 50 megohms and about 80 megohms,
and most preferably between about 60 megohms and about 75 megohms.
Referring back to FIG. 1, the melodic flower 10 houses the electronic
circuit assembly 20 inside its flower petals 14, and the electronic
circuit is firmly affixed to the flower base 16. The conductive ends 42,
44 are placed at the end of the flower stem 12. However, the placement of
the conductive ends 42, 44 is not critical as long as the position of the
exposed conductive ends are easily accessible to the user. As stated
above, the electronic circuit assembly 20 is activated to produce audible
tones or messages when the conductive ends 42, 44 are simultaneously
contacted by a conductive material or simultaneously touched.
Now referring to FIG. 3, a wand 50 is equipped with the electronic circuit
assembly 20. The electronic circuit assembly is the same assembly
described above in connection with the melodic flower. One or both ends of
the wand 50 may be equipped with a multitude of regularly placed strips 52
of a conductive material that are separated by a small gap and are firmly
affixed to the peripheral surface of the ends, forming conductive ends.
The conductive strips 52 are alternatively connected to the first terminal
38 and the second terminal 39 of the electronic circuit assembly 20.
Consequently, when at least one end of the wand 50 is touched or contacted
with a conductive material, thereby simultaneously contacting the first
and second terminals, the switch mechanism is closed, activating the ICU
20 and playing the preprogrammed audible tone or message. It is to be
noted that as the width of the conductive strips 52 decreases,
consequently increasing the number of the conductive strips on the wand,
the likelihood of simultaneously connecting the two terminals 38, 39 and
thus activating the ICU increases.
Alternatively, each of the two ends of the wand may be fitted with a
conductive material that completely wraps the outer periphery of the end,
forming two fitted ends 56, 58, as illustrated in FIG. 4. One of the
fitted ends 56 is connected to the first terminal 38 of the switch
mechanism, and the other end 58 is connected to the second terminal 39. A
melodic wand equipped with this switch arrangement can be activated by one
person simultaneously touching both ends of the wand. If desired, the wand
can be made highly sensitive enough such that two persons physically
separated by a short distance can be able to activate the ICU when each
person simultaneously touches each end of the wand.
Yet other exemplary uses of the present electronic circuit assembly are
illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6. FIG. 5 illustrates a knife 60, more
particularly a cake knife, and FIG. 6 illustrates a cake server 62. The
electronic circuit assembly is placed inside of the handles of the knife
and server, and both of the switch mechanism described above in connection
with the wand 50 are equipped on the handles. Although FIGS. 5 and 6
disclose party-favor articles having two types of switch mechanisms, only
one of the two switch mechanisms is necessary to activate the electronic
circuit assembly provided that the switch mechanism is placed in an easily
accessible location on the handles for easy activation of the ICU.
As another embodiment of the present invention, the switch mechanism may
additionally contain a resilient, conductive member that surrounds or
covers both of the conductive terminals of the physical interruption, 36
of FIG. 2, of the switch mechanism but do not make contact with one or
both of the terminals, 38 and 39 of FIG. 2. The resilient, conductive
member is placed over the two terminals so that when the conductive member
is depressed, e.g., by a finger, the conductive member contacts both of
the terminals to complete the circuit, activating the circuit and the ICU.
In addition, the conductive member is resilient such that it substantially
returns to its original position, deactivating the circuit, when the
pressure is removed. Suitable conductive member can be produced from a
wide variety of elastomers or elastomeric materials, including natural
rubber, neoprene, polyurethane, styrene-butadiene rubbers, butadiene
rubbers, ethylene-propylene rubbers, silicone elastomers and fluoro
elastomers, provided that the elastomeric materials are modified to be
electrically conductive. The modification of the elastomeric material can
be accomplished by any known means such as dispersing or filling fine
carbon or metal particles while the elastomeric material is in a fluid or
molten state, or laminating a conductive metal foil on the inside surface
of the conductive member which is fabricated from an elastomeric material.
FIG. 7 illustrates an example of the conductive member that is fitted at
the end of the stem 12 of the above illustrated melodic flower 10. For
example, the suction-cup-shaped resilient conductive member 70 is molded
from a silicone rubber composition that is filled with fine metal
particles. The small opening of the conductive member 70 is tightly and
permanently fitted over the end of the stem 12, and the first and second
electrically conductive ends, 42 and 44, are enclosed within the
conductive member 70 but do not make contact with the conductive member.
When the resilient conductive member 70 is squeezed to make a contact with
both of the electrically conductive ends, 42 and 44, the circuit is
completed and the ICU is activated to play the programed audible sound.
The use of the resilient conductive member may be advantageous in that the
sensitivity of the switch mechanism can be retarded to prevent false
activations of the ICU, e.g, activation by ambient static conditions or
accidental contacting of the conductive ends. In addition, the use of the
resilient conductive member allows simplification of the electronic
circuit assembly 20. When the resilient conductive member is utilized, the
bipolar transistor can be eliminated from the electronic circuit assembly,
as shown in FIG. 8. Since the conductive member allows a sufficient level
of electrical flow that is high enough to activate the ICU, the need for
the amplification which is provided by the bipolar transistor is
eliminated. Consequently, when the resilient conductive member is
utilized, the sensitivity of the switch mechanism can be reduced. The
resistor 34 of the switching mechanism should be have a resistance between
about 1 megohms and about 20 megohms, preferably between about 5 megohms
and about 15 megohms, more preferably between about 8 megohms and about 12
The present electronic circuit assembly can be placed in many different
novelty articles that are used to enhance festive mood of special
occasions, e.g., birthdays, holidays, various anniversaries and the like,
and such novelty articles include flowers, batons, candles, hats,
cake-serving utensils and the like.